Photo: Bernt Rostad, Flickr
Does your beer only contain water, hops, barley and yeast? Boring. Driven by creative impulses -- and aided by an arsenal of spices to rival a restaurant kitchen -- craft brewers today are creating beers that are as unorthodox as they are exquisite. Here are 10 flavorful weirdos.
Short's Key Lime Pie
Michigan-based Short's makes countless kooky brews (for instance, Bloody Beer features tomatoes and Bloody Mary seasonings), but I like Key Lime Pie. It's made with marshmallows, graham crackers and lime, expertly evoking the dessert.
Mama Mia! Pizza Beer
This beer doesn't just taste like pizza -- it's made with pizza. An entire whole-wheat pizza margherita is used in the brewing process, complete with basil, oregano and garlic. Thankfully, the beer is strained before it's bottled.
Wells Banana Bread Beer
The name is no lie: This British brewers use boatloads of bananas to give the copper brew its signature fruity nose. It tastes plenty nutty too, though some folks might prefer it to be a bit sweeter. It would be grand blended with a stout.
Buckbean Original Orange Blossom Ale
To create this aromatic ale, the Nevada brewery infuses the orange-amber nectar with a tea made from steeped orange blossoms. It's easy-drinking ambrosia.
To make this ancient German style of beer, the Portland, Oregon–based brewer uses lactic acid and salt, resulting in a sour, slightly salinic ale that's surprisingly refreshing.
Williams Brothers Kelpie Seaweed Ale
In a nod to 19th-century Scottish brewers who made beer with malt fertilized with seaweed, Williams Brothers makes this chocolatey ale with fresh seaweed. Though the flavor of bitter chocolate and coffee dominate, Kelpie has a salty, oceanic underpinning.
Cigar City Hunahpu's Imperial Stout
The Tampa, Florida, brewery's imperial stout is an exotic, flavorful doozy, thanks to tons of Peruvian cacao nibs, both ancho and pasilla chiles, Madagascar vanilla beans and cinnamon.
Dogfish Head Sah'tea
The Delaware brewery's take on the classic Finnish farmhouse beer sahti is made by caramelizing the wort (that is, the grain broth that makes beer) with superheated river rocks. For spices, the brewers add juniper berries and a tea made with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and other aromatics. Don't worry: the spicing is subtle, not overwhelming.
Rogue Chipotle Ale
Chili heads, take note: The crisp golden ale incorporates roasted chipotle peppers, which adds a smoky nuance to the beer. Naturally, it's a great mate to a bowl of chili, but it's also an ace on its own.
To fashion this offbeat ale, the madcap Scottish brewers used guarana, poppy seeds, kola nuts and heather honey. Despite the sweet addition, Dogma never becomes cloying, and packs a nice bitter streak.